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DOE v. ISLAMIC SALVATION FRONT

February 2, 1998

JANE DOE I, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ISLAMIC SALVATION FRONT (FIS) AND ANWAR HADDAM, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPORKIN

 This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Haddam's motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs are eight anonymous Algerian and French female citizens and the Rassemblement Algerien de Femmes Democrates (RAFD), a non-governmental membership organization of Algerian women with its headquarters in Algiers. Plaintiffs bring this action under the Alien Tort Claims Act ("ATCA"), 28 U.S.C. § 1350 (1997) and the Torture Victim Protection Act ("TVPA"), 28 U.S.C. § 1350 note (1997). They allege that Defendant Haddam served as a high-ranking official in the FIS and that he participated and conspired in crimes against humanity, war crimes, highjacking, summary execution, rape, mutilation, sexual slavery, murder, and numerous other violations of international law.

 Defendant Haddam moves to dismiss, claiming: (1) lack of personal jurisdiction; (2) improper service; (3) lack of subject matter jurisdiction; (4) nonjusticiability; (5) lack of standing of the RAFD to bring this suit on either its behalf or on behalf of its members.

 The Court finds that: (1) the Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendant Haddam; (2) Defendant Haddam was properly served; (3) the Court has subject matter jurisdiction under the ATCA; (4) Plaintiff's claims are justiciable; (5) the RAFD has standing to bring this suit. The Court will reserve its decision as to jurisdiction under the TVPA because additional facts are necessary in order to make that determination.

 I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

 This action arises from the civil war currently occurring in Algeria. Since Algeria won independence from France in 1962, Algeria has been governed by one party, the National Liberation Front, which has been backed by the military. In 1988-89, in response to broad popular opposition to military control, the Algerian constitution was modified to allow for a multi-party parliamentary system. In 1991-92, the Islamic Salvation Front ("FIS") won Algeria's first free elections. The military declared the election invalid and banned the FIS. As a result, Algeria has experienced a civil war of sorts, which has resulted in a rash of violent massacres of innocent civilians. Almost every day, scores of innocent civilians, mostly women and children, are being killed, raped, butchered, dismembered, burned, tortured, and treated in other vicious and inhumane ways. So far, tens of thousands of lives have been extinguished in this brutal conflict. It still remains unclear whether the FIS, the government of Algeria, other militant organizations, or a combination of all of these parties are the ones responsible for these terrorist activities.

 Defendant Haddam is a native and a citizen of Algeria. In the democratic elections in December 1991, Mr. Haddam, a member of the FIS, won the first round of elections for a seat in the National Assembly. On January 12, 1992, the Algerian military government announced the cancellation of the second round of parliamentary elections in which it was predicted that the FIS would probably win a majority of the seats. On February 9, 1992, the military regime banned the FIS. Mr. Haddam fled Algeria and sought political asylum in the United States.

 Plaintiffs allege that Mr. Haddam set up an office in Washington, D.C., where he acted as an official spokesman of the FIS, issuing newsletters, communiques, declarations, and other statements. Plaintiffs also claim that from his Washington, D.C. office, Mr. Haddam conspired, aided and abetted, and otherwise participated in the alleged violent activities of the FIS. Plaintiffs make several specific allegations regarding Mr. Haddam's knowledge of the FIS's activities and his advocacy in justifying them.

 II. ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION

 Defendant Haddam moves to dismiss, claiming: (1) lack of personal jurisdiction; (2) improper service; (3) lack of subject matter jurisdiction; (4) nonjusticiability; (5) lack of standing of the RAFD to bring this suit on either its behalf or on behalf of its members.

 A. Personal Jurisdiction

 Defendant Haddam claims that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over him because: (1) under D.C. Code Ann. § 13-423(a)(1), he has not transacted any business in the District of Columbia in connection with the facts giving rise to this cause of action; and (2) any transactions that the Defendant conducted in the District of Columbia fall under the "government contacts" exception as described in Environmental Research Int'l Inc. v. Lockwood Greene Engineers Inc., 355 A.2d 808 (D.C. Cir. 1976).

 Pursuant to D.C. Code Ann § 13-423(a)(1), "A District of Columbia court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person . . . transacting any business in the District of Columbia." The Constitution requires that a defendant "have certain minimum contacts with [the forum] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Health Communications, Inc. v. Mariner Corp., 860 F.2d 460, 462 (D.C. Cir. 1988) (quoting International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 90 L. Ed. 95, 66 S. Ct. 154 (1945)). Personal jurisdiction over a defendant exists when "the defendant purposefully avails [himself] of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws." Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253, 2 L. Ed. 2d 1283, 78 S. Ct. 1228 (1958).

 The Court finds that Defendant Haddam has the requisite minimum contacts with the District of Columbia. Defendant Haddam operated the Washington, D.C. office of the FIS. Plaintiffs allege that their causes of action arise from the numerous activities that Defendant Haddam conducted on behalf of the FIS from his Washington, D.C,. office. Accordingly, there are ample minimum contacts between Defendant Haddam and the District of Columbia.

 Defendant Haddam also claims that there is an exception to the District of Columbia's "long-arm" statute that excludes activities involving the solicitation of funds from government agencies. See Environmental Research Int'l Inc. v. Lockwood Greene Engineers Inc., 355 A.2d 808, 813 (D.C. Ct. App. 1976). In this case, however, Defendant Haddam conducted numerous other activities in the District of Columbia that were unrelated to the solicitation of funds from the United States government. Accordingly, personal jurisdiction over Defendant Haddam lies in the District of Columbia.

 B. Service

 Defendant Haddam claims that although he was personally served with the summons and complaint, service was nevertheless improper because he was an "excludable alien" under 8 ...


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